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Sportsmen and Society!

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Mahmood Hassan Quraishi

It was just like any other morning show that we watch on television channels. In such shows, usually a topic is chosen about which hosts discuss with each other, and after some time, a song is played to keep the interests of viewers alive and intact. In every program, one or more guests are also invited who are asked different questions and in the same way, the program proceeds and is concluded.

That day, guests were two sportsmen who had won two medals in a game. As usual, they were appreciated and praised and different questions were asked like their advancement to the victory, their preparation, feelings after the victory and so on. When the discussion was over, a song was played. This song was very well chosen according to the situation. Now, I don’t remember who the singer was but the song was very nice one and it was about patriotism and love to the country. Especially, the video shown was something inspiring; it showed the players from the numerous sports in which our players had participated. They were shown to be playing cricket or running in football ground or doing karate and so on. And of course, most inspiring were the occasions in which players were shown collecting the medals or trophies, waving the national flag and standing still in the respect of national anthem in a huge crowd and most sentimental, crying with joy after the victory.

According to social sciences or sociology, there are different interactions or forces in a society that act on people as a whole. These can be better explained by an expert in sociology but these forces can be either positive or negative. Those news or projections that affect and make the people worried in general can be termed out to be negative. Fortunately, there are positive forces as well that can be used to enhance the image of public or masses in their own eyes and in return, keep their hopes attached and bring them together as  a whole nation.

The impact or effects of such a social factor on general public or masses is very difficult to be measured or described in terms of figures. If one wants to make a single person feel better and hires the services of a psychologist or social sciences expert, we might be able to tell how much it would cost. But how about this situation when team of a country wins a sport event and people come out on roads; celebrating, shouting and enjoying? On any such occasion, when people are interviewed, one thing emerges to be common; people are feeling very good in general, they have got more united and their feelings towards the country or countrymen have got better. It would be almost impossible to estimate if one wants to spend money to inculcate such feelings in the hearts and minds of people on such a large scale. But, a mere sport event or victory makes this impossible task possible. It is the reason that such sports and arts activities are considered to be very important in which the whole of the masses come together and get united or something positive happens to them or whatever it is, which can be better elaborated by an expert in sociology.

Right from the history, we see that activities like wars, sports, marathons or public gatherings or funfairs or carnivals have been given due importance as on any such occasion, people used to come together to feel better and get their general feelings satisfied. This might be one of the topics of public psychology that just like an individual, masses also look for occasions in which they enjoy or feel satisfied to come together to celebrate a victory and feel important.

It is the reason why social experts always support that different sports and arts stadiums or facilities should be arranged and following this, developed countries spend billions on salaries of sports personnel or artists and on providing them with grounds, gymnasiums, art academies and so on. No doubt, sports have financial impacts as well but one may question the logic of spending such huge sums on these activities that seems to be having no direct benefit or economic gain.

As mentioned above, the impact or benefit it can have in general or on masses is such great and impressive that it justifies any kind of spending or investment. This thing can’t be understood in a country or situation when one has all the facilities. In any such country, where the masses are provided with a number of grounds, stadiums, libraries, art centers and many more, people find a place so  that they should exhibit their abilities or polish them and by their exhibition, draw satisfaction. Be it individual or a group, drawing satisfaction is very necessary, and if this psychological need is not addressed by a positive way or approach, people might select a negative way to meet the ends.

But more clear and drastic picture of this public psychology can be witnessed in a country where people are deprived of such facilities. In any case, people find ways to satisfy their feelings and this is done with whatever possibilities or opportunities are available at hand.

More than a decade ago, when the country had fallen into the hands of regime in which country had stopped moving forward and everything seemed to have ceased. Any kind of connection with outside world was blocked and inside the country, there existed a rude and rigid rule, that knew no flexibility and thus people were left with very limited options to be involved in any activity that might give them few moments of entertainment and when they might satisfy their psychological need of exhibiting their abilities and drawing satisfaction.

One of my observations in those days was the condition of youth that came very interesting and alarming to me. They looked as if they had nothing to do and their souls and minds had dried up and they wandered aimlessly here and there without any activity. That was a very painful and alarming situation from a social or psychological view point.

There was a small city in which population was not more than few thousands but I was surprised to see a large number of football teams and great involvement of youth or even elders in it. There were junior teams and senior teams and street clubs and many more. Then I learned that the only reason for such large involvement of people was that, people were not permitted to take part in other activities and they had this only game to take part. Even this game was also permitted with so many conditions like they could not wear shorts or shirts with English writing on them and so on.

In Lashkargah, I visited a friend of mine one day. It was summer and the day was very hot. After the lunch, we had nothing to do and topics to be discussed had also finished. Then he said that he had an activity to pass his time and at that time, many colors came on his face. He seemed excited, hesitant, shying and a bit ashamed as well. Then I followed him and we went into a basement. He closed the door and took out a tape recorder which he had hidden in a corner. Then he played cassette and looked at me and smiled. Even today, my eyes are filled with tears when I try to imagine his situation and shying smile that how people had been deprived of having such small pleasures and how they longed for such moments of joy and pleasure. I realized that he felt himself to be very stupid to show me this thing but it was the only pleasure he had and it was his whole universe. But this was all happening!

Keeping in view the above two situations, now I realize how much important it is to spend on sports and arts and it is the reason why, they have been termed to be positive investments as they give birth to positive feelings in the general public and make them feel better.

And I salute all those sportsmen who have worked hard and brought fame and name to country and made us all feel better! Really, your job could have not been done by anyone else!

Mahmood Hassan Quraishi is a permanent writer of the Daily Afghanistan Express.

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